Citizen Science Project Reveals Where Spiders Prefer To Hang Out In Your House

Tegeneria domestica (common house spider). IanRedding/Shutterstock

Robin Andrews 10 Sep 2018, 12:21

Back in September 2014, the Royal Society of Biology, in conjunction with a bunch of other researchers, developed an app for smartphones genuinely entitled “Spider in da house”. As the name suggests, it helps you identify, after taking a snap of the spider, what species – of the 660-plus present in the UK – may have invaded your personal space.

Fast-forward to 2018, and a study focusing on said data has appeared in the journal Arachnology. Led by the University of Gloucestershire, the authors describe the information the app collected as the “largest dataset ever gathered on the occurrence of house spiders anywhere in the world.” So what does it teach us about these famously creepy crawlies in the UK?

Well, based on nearly 10,000 records from various locations around the UK collected over a six-month period, it seems that 82 percent of house appearances are made by males, largely of the genera Tegenaria and Eratigena, seasonally-driven arachnids commonly referred to as house spiders. These tend to find their way into homes in the fall, and are, for the most part, males seeking mates.

Sightings reach a low in January. They peak in September, and as the fall moves into winter, such peaks occur in a northwest progression across the country. It appears that spiders were spotted most at 7.35pm. This time, however, isn’t indicative of when they enter the house: we just happen to be around then and are most likely to see them.

The team also note that sightings are biased by various anthropogenic effects, with the media attention given to the app back when it was launched perhaps causing or accentuating the September peak. Saying that, the team do note that a previous, smaller study looking at such things in Belgium also noted a September peak.

There were no significant differences in room preference, but spiders were observed the most in living rooms (27.2 percent) and bathrooms (20.8 percent), again in agreement with smaller studies. The researchers do point out, however, that less cluttered bathrooms and accidental traps, like sinks, make spotting them there easier than in, say, cluttered carpeted bedrooms.

Curiously, there was a difference in terms of spider sex when it came to where specifically in the rooms they were found. Females tended to hang out more on ceilings, doors, and windows; males, conversely, seemed to prefer walls.

This was initially “puzzling” as, clearly, females still had to climb on walls to get to ceilings. However, it’s thought they decide to hang out there and rest as they’re less mobile than their male counterparts, and need to conserve energy.

So there you have it. Thanks to citizen science, consider yourself more enlightened about the eight-legged critters that get aroused and slip into your house.

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